Susanne Pini featured in ABC’s Future Tense Podcast on “Shopping Centres & the Future of Spending”
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio National’s podcast series “Future Tense” is known for its thought-provoking episodes that offer “a critical look at our shape-shifting world and how we're learning to adapt.” The latest episode, hosted by Edwina Stott, focuses on the ever-changing world of retail and the shopping center.
Susanne Pini, director of mixed-use and retail at HDR, along with fellow guests — Dr. Bill Page, Cate Trotter, and Dr. Jathan Sadowski — spoke to the history of the shopping center, how they’ve evolved over time, and how they’re transforming to keep up with the changing retail landscape.
“When we talk about the evolution of shopping centers we have to go back many, many centuries. The nexus of where it all started was the Roman market place,” Susanne Pini begins.
“And if you think about market places, they have that kind of quality of being something that’s ever-changing — so the idea that you go one day and you go the next and it’s a different exchange — it’s an exchange of goods, but it's also an exchange of sociality. So that’s arguably where shopping centers started.”
But overtime, the emphasis shifted from shopping centers being the center of social interaction in addition to the goods to becoming a just place where you buy “stuff.” Susanne continues to say that while this shift might seem obvious, and perhaps even make sense, there’s a fundamental problem with it, “this idea of having singular buildings that only do one thing is not actually the way we live our life.”
So how does the shopping center evolve to stay relevant? The key lies in the success of its past — to once again “become a strong piece of community infrastructure,” Susanne adds. “And that’s the role of shopping centers going forward — it’s the new town hall, it’s the new town square, it’s the new piece of civic infrastructure. It has been for many years, but now what’s starting to evolve are centers that look and feel that way … so they’re much more open and much more connected to what’s around them.”